#TopReads2018 Let Me Lie By @ClareMackint0sh & Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry @JLPerryAuthor @LittleBrownUK

Top Reads 2017


Let Me Lie: The Number One Sunday Times Bestseller by [Mackintosh, Clare]

Continuing my list of top reads and recommendations from 2018, both today’s selections are published by Little Brown. First of all, I have chosen Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh. As with her previous novels, this was a real page-turner with a clever twist that took me completely by surprise. Anna has lost both her parents to suicide within months of each other. At least, the police say it was suicide but Anna thinks it was murder. This is a real page-turner that will keep you guessing right up to the end. Read my review here: Let Me Lie


Nineteen Letters: A beautiful love story that will take your breath away by [Perry, Jodi]

Next is one of the most romantic books I read this year, Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry. This book won Romantic Book of the Year at the Romantic Writers of Australia awards this year and I’m not surprised. It’s the story of Braxton and Jemma who met as school children and married nineteen years later. Nineteen days after they marry, Jemma is in a serious accident and loses her memory, no longer recognising Braxton. Nineteen has always been a significant number for them and he writes nineteen letters to try to remind her of their life together through the years. It was heartbreaking at times but also beautifully heartwarming. You can read my review here: Nineteen Letters


Two very different books – have you read either of them? What’s the most romantic book you have read this year?


#TopReads2018 #FairvaleLadies by @SophieGreenAuth @LittleBrownUK and The Trick to Time by @kitdewaal @penguinbooksUK

Top Reads 2017

My first choice today is The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Clubisn’t that a fabulous title? I thought that I would enjoy this one since it featured a book club and I was right. Sophie Green explores the lives of the five members of the Book Club who live in a remote part of Australia in the 1970s. I loved reading about the different lives of all the women who felt like friends by the time I finished the book. Sophie Green writes beautifully about the challenges they face, the joys they experience and the support they give each other through their friendship. Read my review here: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club


The Trick to Time by [Waal, Kit de]

The Trick to Time is a beautifully written story about a young Irish girl who moves to Britain in the 1970s. After a tragedy tears her family apart, we meet Mona again in her 60s and learn about the significant events in her life. It is full of wonderful, memorable characters and is a beautifully written poignant novel about love, loss and hope. Read my review here: The Trick to Time

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What books have moved you this year?

The Other Miss Bates by Allie Cresswell #review @alliescribbler @rararesources

The Other Miss Bates: The second book in the Highbury Trilogy, inspired by Jane Austen's 'Emma' by [Cresswell, Allie, Lady, a]

I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell earlier this year (review here) and jumped at the chance to read the second in this trilogy which forms a prequel to Jane Austen’s Emma. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the first or indeed if you haven’t read Emma, though I would urge you to read both. If anything, I enjoyed this book even more.

The Other Miss Bates focuses on Jane Bates, who we only know as the late Jane Fairfax in the original Emma. She has travelled to Brighton to take up a position as companion to a wheelchair-bound widow named Mrs Sealy. The world of Brighton offers new and exciting social opportunities and Jane is delighted to find that Lieutenant Weston will be there with his regiment. She hopes to rekindle their attachment, but someone else has designs on him too. We also encounter a wonderful villain in Arthur Sealy, a character to rival Mr Willoughby (from Sense & Sensibility) although certainly without his initial charm.

Allie Cresswell has again captured perfectly the style of Jane Austen’s work. The way her characters speak and act with each other takes you right into Georgian Regency Britain. The concerns of women, particularly those in, as Austen would say, ‘distressed circumstances’ are foremost in the book. Jane is a wonderful character and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her relationships with Mrs Sealy, Dr Fairfax and especially the way she responded so genteely to the rather snobbish Mrs Churchill. Although not in Brighton, we do get to hear the effusive thoughts of her sister, Henrietta, through her enthusiastically long letters from Highbury. Although sometimes imparting the most serious of news, they did make me smile!

As Allie Cresswell says in her introduction to the book, she will end up on the same page as Jane Austen eventually so afficionados need not fear. Inevitably, this means a rather melancholy epilogue as we find out the fates of many of the characters we have met throughout this book. But it does set the reader up rather nicely for the final book in the trilogy which will focus on young Jane Fairfax and lead us nearer to encountering Emma.

The Other Miss Bates was such a joy to read. I truly felt like I was reading words which could easily have flowed from the pen of Miss Austen herself. I can’t wait for the third part in the trilogy and really hope the author turns her hand to more of Jane Austen’s works (Sense & Sensibility please!).

My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of the book and the invitation to take part in the tour. The Other Miss Bates is available now as an ebook or in paperback and you can order a copy online here: The Other Miss Bates

From the back of the book

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences – balls at the Assembly rooms, carriage rides and promenades on the Steyne – make her new life all Jane had hoped for.

While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey.

When handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind.

About the Author

Mrs Bates Author Pict

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.

The Other Miss Bates is her eighth novel and the second in the Highbury series

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Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin by Helen Rolfe #review @hjrolfe @rararesources

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin (New York Ever After, Book 4) by [Rolfe, Helen J]

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin is a lovely festive read from Helen Rolfe. It’s actually the fourth book in the New York Ever After series although I haven’t read any of the previous books. I think I would have liked to have known more about the other characters who were mentioned just to add to my enjoyment, but I was certainly able to read and enjoy this story as a standalone.

The story begins when Holly who has recently gone freelance as a magazine feature writer, goes to to photograph her boyfriend’s new hotel in Inglenook Falls. Falling and banging her head, she is rescued by the reclusive Mitch who takes her back to his log-cabin to recover. Mitch runs a Christmas tree farm which is at its busiest of course at the time the book is set but he really needs to work on his people and business skills! Over the next few weeks, their paths cross quite a few times, sometimes by accident, sometimes by design.

What I enjoyed most about the story was finding out about Mitch. He was such an interesting person and you could understand how his past relationship and loss had turned him into this reclusive person. His past hurts made it difficult for him to open himself up and trust people. Holly though, just seems to have that special something which might melt his heart but, with her already being in a relationship, could she ever feel anything but sympathy (and sometimes irritation) for Mitch? I loved watching Mitch’s character begin to open up throughout the book as he began to understand that people could actually care for him.

Helen Rolfe’s descriptions of a festive New York and snowy Inglenook Falls were lovely and conjured up a really Christmassy picture in my head. The Christmas markets sounded like somewhere I would love to visit, the decorations both in the city and the town sounded wonderful and oh how I would love a proper white Christmas! Inglenook Falls sounded like a great community to be part of, so friendly and with lots of supportive residents.

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin was a sweet festive read and yes, deserving of the phrase ‘heart-warming’. Having got to know a little about some of Holly’s friends in this book, I’d be keen to read more about them in Helen Rolfe’s other books in the New York Ever After series.

My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of the book and the invitation to take part in the tour. Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin is available now as an ebook and can be ordered online here: Amazon UK or Amazon US

From the back of the book

Do you believe in Christmas Miracles?

Holly is looking for a change and even though not everyone agrees with her career choices, she’s determined there’s more to this life than the long hours she works as an editor in New York City. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Mitch, a recluse who’s hiding more than she realises.

Mitch does all he can to avoid human contact, spending his days in the little log cabin out in the woods behind Inglenook Falls where he owns a Christmas tree farm, so when Holly falls into his life, he’s not sure how to react. All he knows is that something needs to change if he ever wants to get his life back on track.

Along with friends Cleo and Darcy, Holly is determined to bring joy back to Mitch’s life, but will he appreciate their interference? And when a business proposition throws everything up in the air, will it do more harm than good and ruin lives forever?

Both Holly and Mitch must learn that on the surface people aren’t always what they seem…but if you dig a little deeper, they can take you by surprise.

Curl up this Christmas for plenty of snowflakes, roaring log fires, a marriage proposal, unlikely friendships and second chances as we return to the much-loved characters in the New York Ever After series.

About the Author

Author Photograph Helen Rolfe (4)

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending.

Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

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#TopReads2018 The Confession by Jo Spain @spainjoanne @quercusbooks and Dark of Night by @CSDuffyWriter

Top Reads 2017

Continuing my Top Reads of 2018 today with a couple of cracking crime reads. Well, it’s a bit of a cheat really for my second choice as you’ll see in a minute!

The Confession: An addictive psychological thriller with shocking twists and turns by [Spain, Jo]

In this standalone novel, the action begins with a shockingly violent scene. A businessman is viciously attacked in his own home in front of his wife. The attacker hands himself into the police very soon after and confesses to the crime. The book then explores exactly why this crime took place from the points of view of those three characters. It’s a really gripping read, so well plotted. This book means it’s three years in a row that a book from Joanne Spain has featured in my top reads list! It was a real pleasure to meet her earlier this year at Bloody Scotland. You can read my full review here: The Confession


My next choice is the one that’s a bit of a cheat as it’s actually a trilogy. To be fair though, there is no way you could read Episode One without immediately wanting to read Episode Two. And then Episode Three! Also in my defence, the trilogy is now available to buy as one bundle for Kindle. Dark of Night is a real edge-of-the-seat read which is fast-paced, full of twists and turns as police try to solve the murder of Lorna and so does her friend Ruari. Honestly, couldn’t put these books down and really you have to read them all. Excellent crime writing from CS Duffy who certainly knows how to write a cliffhanger. You can read my review of Episodes One and Two here and Episode Three here.

Have you read any of these books? What has been your favourite crime read this year?

#TopReads2018 Three Things About Elsie by @JoannaCannon @boroughpress and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan @svaughanauthor @simonschusterUK

Top Reads 2017

Top Ten list of best reads this year? I just couldn’t do it! By the end of November I had 20 books on my list of favourites for 2018. So instead of a Top Ten list, over the next few weeks I’m going to share those books which had made an impression on me, made me think, moved me, or stuck in my mind since I read them. They are not ranked in any particular order, just the order I read them in. Although I will be saving two for the very end, two books which were the standout reads for me this year.


Three Things About Elsie: A Richard and Judy Book Club Pick 2018 by [Cannon, Joanna]

My first choice is the wonderful Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon. This is the story of Elsie, an old woman we meet lying on the floor in her nursing home after a fall. As she waits for help, she looks back on her life and we hear about her very special relationship with her friend Elsie. You can read my review here: Three Things About Elsie


Anatomy of a Scandal: The Sunday Times bestseller everyone is talking about by [Vaughan, Sarah]

My next choice is Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. This could not be a more timely book in the light of #MeToo as it looks at a scandal affecting Westminster through the eyes of two of the women caught up in the courtroom drama. A departure in style for Sarah Vaughan and absolutely gripping throughout. Read my review here: Anatomy of  a Scandal.


Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What would be on your top reads list for 2018? Come back tomorrow to find out my next two choices.

As The Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray #review @sarabandbooks @RKbookpublicist

As the Women Lay Dreaming by [Murray, Donal S]

I have spent a few holidays on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides but it wasn’t until I did some family history research for a friend whose family is from there that I heard of the Iolaire. It is a tragic story. On 1st January 2019, the Iolaire boat was bringing home almost 300 servicemen after the end of the First World War when it hit rocks just outside Stornoway Harbour and sank, resulting in the deaths of over 200 men just yards from the shore. If you visit Stornoway and see where the ship went down, it is hard to believe that so many died. They were within what seemed liked easy swimming distance of the shore. However, it was a cold, dark and stormy night, the men were wearing their uniforms and heavy boots and, with much of the sea surrounding Lewis having extremely dangerous undercurrents, many of the Lewis people never learned to swim. The family I was researching lost two brothers but there was hardly a community on the island which was untouched by the tragedy. The dead represented almost an entire generation of young men.

As The Women Lay Dreaming looks at the effect this tragedy had on one of the survivors, the fictional Tormod Morrison. It is told partly through the voice of his grandson Alasdair who, following another family tragedy, is sent with his sister to live with his grandparents on Lewis almost twenty years after the disaster. He finds a quiet man who has clearly been marked by his experiences. But Tormod teaches Alasdair to observe all that is around him, to appreciate the beauty of nature around him, no matter how dark life may be. Tormod is an artistic man, a talented sketcher who drew what he saw when he was in the trenches. I always had the sense that he felt trapped by his life, trapped due to various things which happened to his brother, his wife and his community. Nature and drawing was his escape from the darkness, a reminder that there is always beauty to be found.

Not surprisingly for someone from the Hebrides, Donald Murray descriptions of the island are highly detailed and make it easy to visualise the beautiful though often bleak landscape. He vividly describes the dark and smoky living conditions in the blackhouses and, for the time, more modern whitehouses and it is clear to see how harsh life on the islands could be. His understanding of Lewis culture and heritage comes across clearly and gives the reader an insight into Hebridean life in the early 20th Century.

Drawing on his own family history and experiences, Donald Murray paints an evocative picture of how intensely the tragedy affected the Lewis community, with the effects echoing down through the generations. It is a beautifully written tale and a moving insight into how a tragedy can shape a community and an individual.

The Iolaire memorial

My thanks to at Ruth Killick Publicists for my copy of the book and the opportunity to take part in the blogtour. It is published by Saraband Books and is available in paperback and as an ebook. You’ll find details of where to buy a copy on the publisher’s website: While the Women Lay Dreaming

From the back of the book

In the small hours of January 1st, 1919, the cruellest twist of fate changed at a stroke the lives of an entire community.

Tormod Morrison was there that terrible night. He was on board HMY Iolaire when it smashed into rocks and sank, killing some 200 servicemen on the very last leg of their long journey home from war. For Tormod – a man unlike others, with artistry in his fingertips – the disaster would mark him indelibly.

Two decades later, Alasdair and Rachel are sent to the windswept Isle of Lewis to live with Tormod in his traditional blackhouse home, a world away from the Glasgow of their earliest years. Their grandfather is kind, compassionate, but still deeply affected by the remarkable true story of the Iolaire shipwreck – by the selfless heroism and desperate tragedy he witnessed.

A deeply moving novel about passion constrained, coping with loss and a changing world, As the Women Lay Dreaming explores how a single event can so dramatically impact communities, individuals and, indeed, our very souls.

About the author

Donald Murray photo Sandie McIver-web
Photo credit: Sandie McIver

A son of the Hebrides, Donald S. Murray is a writer and poet whose work has been shortlisted for both the Saltire Literary Awards and the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. His critically acclaimed books bring to life the culture and nature of the Scottish islands, and he appears regularly on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland.

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